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Plea in Supreme Court seeks CBI investigation into public work contracts awarded to family members of Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu

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A plea has been filed before the Supreme Court alleging grant of public work contracts to the family members of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra issued notice on the plea. 

The plea moved by Save Mon Region Federation has sought an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into contracts for public works being awarded to select firms owned by close family members of the Arunachal Pradesh chief minister. 

The plea stated that in light of evidence of government contract works being allotted only to the firms of family members of the Chief Minister and his close associates, an inference can be reasonably drawn that such favouritism in government contracts would not have been possible without direct knowledge, consent and active support of the CM Pema Khandu.

The plea further alleged that construction company M/s Brand Eagles, owned by Khandu’s wife, has been awarded a large number of government contracts despite there being a clear conflict of interest. It also underlined that when Pema Khandu’s father, late Dorjee Khandu, was the CM of Arunachal Pradesh, the firm was in Pema’s name and was awarded contracts without tender processes.

Reportedly, Dorjee Khandu’s second wife Rinchin Drema and his nephew Tsering Tashi have been impleaded as respondents. Tashi is the MLA for Tawang District and owns M/s Alliance Trading Co.

The petition further alleged that numerous contracts have been awarded to M/s Alliance Trading Co. in clear violation of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Code of Conduct for Ministers.

The plea was lodged by advocate Prashant Bhushan who informed the Court that a similar plea was already under consideration by Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela Trivedi. 

Advocate Prashant Bhushan said that in that case, he had filed an interlocutory application (IA) following which the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) was directed to submit a note detailing the guidelines followed in the grant of contracts to family members. Subsequently, CJI DY Chandrachud took note of the issue and issued a formal notice on the plea.

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